Mounting pressure

Mounting pressure

With BJP declaring Modi as its prime ministerial candidate and the nation turning in his favour; US is trying to find an escape route.

There has been a buzz in the diplomatic circles, after sudden resignation of US Ambassador to India, Nancy Powell. It is not the first time that US Ambassador to India, has been removed. However, present incidence of the resignation of the US ambassador, cannot be considered a normal occurrence. In diplomatic circles, this resignation is being linked with the emerging situation in wake of general elections in India and the possibility of Narendra Modi taking over the charge as Prime Minister of India.

BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate Modi had been denied US Visa number of times and India and the US have been at loggerheads over this issue in the past. Denial of US visa to Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, being in the constitutional position, was considered inappropriate in diplomatic terms. However, many people believe that, now in the event of Narendra Modi becoming the Prime Minister of India, it will not be good for US to continue with this stand. It is notable that despite denial of visa by US administration, nothing could bar Modi to address the American gatherings, he was supposed to attend; by way of video conferencing.

In recent months, with the BJP announcing Modi as its candidate for prime minister, heat on this issue has multiplied. Reportedly some parliamentarians from India had written to the US President to continue with the policy of denial of US visa to Modi; however, after facing criticism for this act of taking up the matter internationally, against a person holding constitutional post of Chief Minister; they had to eat their words and some of them even denied to have signed this controversial letter to US President. Even Congress Party led UPA government also had to contest this policy of the United States.

Nancy Powell, US ambassador in India for 5 years, was regarded to be close to the current government and the Congress party. She was obviously considered linked with this episode for denial of visa to Narendra Modi. However, relations between the United States of America and the Government of India  have apparently been strained for several other reasons, including diplomatic row over Devyani Khorbode issue.

Clearly India’s silent support to recent takeover of Crimea by Russia would not have been liked by USA. Thus Indo-US relations have been stressful in the recent past; and USA would not like to have an adversary in the PM position. Now, when mood of the Indian people is very much clear, USA would obviously like to buy peace with Modi. By not assigning any reason for Nancy Powell’s resignation, USA itself has given air to such speculation.

It is well known that the US government has always strived to protect the business interests of companies. In this context, the recent visit of a delegation consisting of USA’s lawmakers to Gujarat was an attempt to improve relations with Modi. It is notable that America denied visa to Modi on the pretext that a section of the Immigration and Nationality Act makes any foreign government official who was responsible or “directly carried out, at any time, particularly severe violations of religious freedom” ineligible for the visa. USA did not do it alone; England had also supported her by refusing visa to Modi.

England’s resolve

However, England ended this controversy in October, 2012 and granted visa to Modi and instructed English High Commissioner to India to meet him. UK government issued a press statement and said that England has strong economic interests linked to Gujarat. Modi in return tweeted to welcome UK government’s decision. After England’s resolve to grant visa to Modi, pressure has been mounting on USA to end its Modi boycott policy; and now, BJP declaring him as its prime ministerial candidate and the mood of the nation in his favour; USA is trying to find an escape route to come out of this controversy.

In February 2014, USA’s ambassador Nancy Powell visited Gujarat to meet Modi. People who used to consider Modi as a controversial personality are now praising him. With chances of new government under Modi’s leadership getting brighter, attitude of people around the world is changing fast.

Those who were referring to Gujarat riots are now referring to Gujarat development model. They are also talking about Modi’s initiative to boost industry, be it land allotment for Tata’s Nano or facilitating Maruti Suzuki. American agencies are also contemplating that once Modi becomes Prime Minister, US policy of denying American visa to Modi would be unsustainable, as he would enjoy all diplomatic rights.

Though, not much is known about Modi's foreign policy; looking at the public utterances of Modi, there would not be any acceptance or lackluster approach against expansionary policy of China. China will have to keep its aggression at back burner, in order to protect its economic interests in India. If Pak TV channels or media is any guide, it is clear that Pakistan is extremely afraid of the emergence of a strong national leadership under Modi. Pak intelligence agencies are equally under stress.

Modi has publicly expressed his unhappiness over the ill treatment of Hindus in Pakistan and Bangladesh. He has publicly said that if voted to power, his government would help Hindu migrants from Pakistan and Bangladesh settle in India. International and domestic agencies and defence experts have been critical of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s lame approach. After Modi taking over the reign of power, it is expected that terrorist activities from across the border or from within would be dealt with sternly.

On the one hand USA, European Countries and Japan are trying to improve ties with Modi, enemy nations are keeping a close eye on the developments in India. Although change in attitude of USA, should not surprise us, looking at its commercial interests; however US dilemma in this regard, also cannot be overlooked.